Hazelnut coffee is something that most coffee drinkers will be familiar with. It is often widely available and easy to get, affordable, and offers a sweet, nutty flavor. Some people might have even gotten into the world of coffee by starting out with hazelnut coffee, and it’s no surprise that it’s a popular option. However, while they may have an intense, sweet taste to them that is very desirable, hazelnut and other flavored coffee options may not be everything that they seem to be. Behind the shiny exterior of hazelnut coffee beans, there is often a lot of chemicals, old coffee beans, and cheap, sometimes unethical labor.
Hazelnut coffee is made by adding synthetic or natural oils to coffee beans. However, one main problem is that hazelnut flavoring is often added to low-quality coffee beans, which are seen to be low grade when they have been harshly impacted by a range of defects or have even been left to age for a long period of time – sometimes years! The beans will be sprayed with hazelnut flavoring oils soon after being roasted, then packaged and shipped. The oil from hazelnut ground coffee and flavored coffees is also likely to leave residue on your coffee grinder, which can be sticky and stubborn to remove, making it much harder to clean. While hazelnut coffee can be a tasty option, it’s often best avoided since you are likely getting lower quality beans when you choose this flavor. Along with this, cheap hazelnut coffee is neither sustainable nor ethical and can be harmful to coffee farmers. The good news is that there are various different ways to make coffee that is delicious and naturally nutty at home.
Hazelnut Coffee is Usually Made with Low Quality Beans
When you’re drinking coffee that has a strong flavor like hazelnut coffee, you might not always notice what is masked behind it. It’s very unlikely that a good coffee roastery will purchase the best beans that they can find only to douse them in strong flavored oils. How is artificial hazelnut flavor made? Most of the time, flavored coffee is made using the coffee beans that nobody else wants, whether that’s beans that have defects that leave them lasting awful, or dusty oily beans that have been left sitting for months or even years unwanted. In the long run, the demand for hazelnut coffee using these old or defected coffee beans will hurt coffee farmers and their communities.
It’s Unsustainable and Harms Farmer’s Livelihoods
While getting your hands on some cheap hazelnut flavored coffee might seem like a budget-friendly option for you right now, it’s a small price that can come with big consequences for others. Hazelnut coffee and other coffee flavors often use low-grade, defected, and cheap coffee beans as their base. Unfortunately, cheap coffee does not provide coffee farmers with a good reward for their hard work. And when the coffee farmers are not being paid a substantial amount for their beans, they will struggle to use the little that they have to improve, adapt, and grow not only their coffee farming business, but also their lives. The International Coffee Organization states that around 125 million people around the world now depend on coffee to make an income, which is why coffee has long been one of the most valuable crops in the world.
However, despite the high demand and wide tradability of coffee, cheap crops have consequences that could leave some farmers moving away from farming coffee. Farmers that are struggling to make a good livelihood due to cheap coffee might be heavily in debt, forcing them to either stop farming or consider alternative crop options. They will often be under pressure to make difficult decisions regarding where they should allocate their coffee income, and might be struggling with household and family expenses as a result. Some may find themselves in a position where they are struggling to pay the coffee pickers and other farm workers that they rely on to help them make a living.
How to Make Better Hazelnut Coffee
The good news is that, despite the problems with artificial hazelnut flavor ingredients, and why you should avoid hazelnut flavor when shopping for coffee beans, it is possible to enjoy your favorite roasted hazelnut coffee without all of these problems. Firstly, you may want to commit to only getting good-quality hazelnut coffee from brands that are committed to helping coffee farmers and ensure that they’re paying a decent amount for the coffee beans that they buy and working with ethical farms, like Starbucks hazelnut ground coffee.
Another option is to make your own hazelnut coffee at home. Or, you can find coffee beans that have hazelnut notes, along with notes of chocolate and caramel without any additional flavorings or chemicals. These flavors occur organically in many different coffee crops and will be enhanced when the coffee beans are carefully roasted and brewed.
You can make your own hazelnut coffee at home using your own high-quality coffee beans and a good quality hazelnut coffee flavoring oil. To do this, you can choose the beans that you use and make sure that they are of a high quality and ethically sourced, which will result in a better tasting brew. Making your own hazelnut coffee beans at home is also a much better decision for the coffee farmers, who will have earned a decent amount of money from the high-quality beans, rather than selling low-quality beans for roasters to cover in hazelnut flavoring.
Ethical Tips for Buying Coffee
Whether you are buying coffee beans to enjoy as they are or want to add your own hazelnut flavoring, it’s important to be aware of the ethics in the coffee industry. Before buying coffee beans, make sure that you know how they were made and where they come from. It’s important to make sure that everybody in the supply chain has been paid fairly for their work to make sure that you are buying coffee that has been ethically sourced. This includes farmers and people working on the farms all the way to your coffee salesperson or barista. It’s also important to consider the long-term sustainability and the environment of the coffee farms where the coffee beans are grown.
Avoid Buying from Big Coffee Chains
If you want coffee that is very sustainable and ethical, generally speaking, you should avoid buying from big coffee chains. While many of the big coffee brands are now trying to make more ethical decisions when it comes to the coffee that they sell or serve, the truth is that they are often looking to make as much money as possible for their shareholders. This means that the wellbeing of the farmers and farm workers is not as high on the priority list compared to smaller companies. Instead, seek out smaller brands who are not only more likely to provide ethical coffee, but might also have higher-quality options.
Be Prepared to Pay More
Nobody wants to pay more than they need to, but the truth is that buying cheap coffee beans is a complete waste of your money. If you’re buying coffee beans that are very cheap, this means that somebody has cut costs at some point. Most likely, this means that the farmers are not looked after very well, and the environment on the farms is not a top concern. Obviously, paying everybody fairly and making sure that the environment of coffee farms and surrounding local areas are looking after will cost more money, which is usually reflected in coffee that will cost more to buy. However, that being said, just because coffee is expensive, does not always mean that it is sourced responsibly or ethically, so always do your research first.
Look Out for Coffee Labels
Knowing which labels to look out for can help you determine whether or not a type of coffee has been sourced responsibly and ethically. There is now a growing number of labels that can be found on coffee with each one designed to provide you with peace of mind that the coffee has been produced with environmental and farmers’ needs in mind. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that not all of these labels involve standards that are legally binding and they do not always mean that the best practices have been followed. Fairtrade is one of the main labels to look out for on your coffee, whether you are buying standard coffee beans or hazelnut flavored coffee beans. This guarantees that farmers are paid a minimum price so that they are not operating at a loss. Certified Organic Coffee is another key label to look out for if you are concerned about the chemicals that go into making hazelnut coffee, since this certifies that no synthetic pesticides have been used. Rainforest Alliance is a label to look out for if you want to ensure that the environment has been a top priority in the growing and production of the coffee.
While hazelnut coffee is a great tasting option, it’s often best avoided due to cheap beans and non-ethical practices.